Five Things Every Board Member Wishes Their Executive Director Would Do Better

One of our most popular posts to date is 5 Things Camp Executives Wish Their Board Members Did Better. We thought it might be interesting to turn the tables and share this post, highlighting five things every board member wishes their executive director would do better! Fun, Right!?!

Here goes…

Being on a camp’s board of directors is a big deal. It’s an honor to be asked to lead an organization in this way. It looks good on a CV. And, it’s a great way to support a cause you care about. 

Unfortunately, 50% of nonprofit organizations cite recruitment of strong board members to be either moderately or highly challenging. This is in large part because being a board member has high burnout rates, often resulting from a weak or strained relationship with the executive director.

Executives — assuming you want a robust and happy board, keep reading. There are five basic things that every board member wishes their executive director would do better.

Communicate in between meetings

Official board meetings are a great time to review all the formalities of the organization – financial statements, governance, etc. In-between meetings are a great time to connect and learn more about the mission and inner workings of the organization. 

Don’t worry. If you have done an excellent job of orienting the board member to their role and keeping boundaries defined well, you aren’t going to create a board member who oversteps. Instead, you are going to create a more committed volunteer who can better support the organization during meetings.

Create relationships 1:1 with board members 

Having solid relationships with your board of directors can be a difference-maker in moving the organization forward. 

Look back at #1 — communicating between meetings helps build the trust and openness required for that forward movement to happen. 

These relationships can be strictly professional or reach into the personal. Camp people seem to make friends wherever they go, and, frequently, the boundaries are blurred. That’s fine. As long as you can perform as an executive and board member, creating a personal connection is fantastic.

Get them materials ahead of time

Yes, everyone knows you are busy. But, do us all a favor. Pretend the drop-dead deadline for getting board meeting materials out is one week before it is. It’s like tricking your mind by setting your clocks back so you won’t be late. 

While board members are notorious for not reading materials ahead of time, camp executives are notorious for not getting the materials to the board members in time to read them. So let’s all agree to do better!

Highlight and introduce the work of other staff members

Camp board members often say yes to the invitation to serve because of the mission of the camp, not their love of governance. So, make sure you are taking time in every meeting to highlight the work of the staff members. Introduce them. Celebrate their ideas and wins. Share the learnings from things that fell flat. You work every day to create a robust and vibrant team. Let the board see that and celebrate the work with you!

Value raising leaders – for the sake of the industry and the sake of succession planning

It is so easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of being an executive director of a camp. From toilet plunging and hiring, camp executives get pulled in a million different directions. Board members know this and respect the quantity and quality of work you do daily – or at least they should. 

In addition to those things (or perhaps instead of some of them), board members also want to know that you value the raising up of leaders. In other words, are you investing in the staff and volunteers of the organization? Are you giving them what they need to be the leaders of tomorrow – whether it’s with your organization or another? 

Execs — what would it mean to your board of directors if you did or improved in each of these five things. What might it enable?

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